The Fontana del Prigione (“Fountain of the Prison”) is a well-travelled fountain that at present is located in the Trastevere district in Rome. It used to be part of an enormous Renaissance villa owned by Pope Sixtus V.
Fontana del Prigione Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Via Goffredo Mameli – Rome. Opening hours and admission: The fountain can be seen from outside.
History and description
The “Fountain of the Prison” was one of 30 fountains originally gracing the Giardino di Villa Montalto Peretti all’Esquilino. This was, in those days, the biggest private property with the city walls. At the end of the 19th century, the Esquilino district was completely restructured in order to create space for the new central railway station Roma Termini. The villa was destroyed and the fountain dismantled in order to be rebuilt later in the Via Genova.
In 1923, the Palazzo del Viminale had to be built, so the Fontana del Prigione was moved again, this time to its permanent spot in the Via Goffredo Mameli on the slope of the Janiculum hill in the Trastevere neighbourhood. The spot was chosen in order to create a harmonious background view for the Via Manara.
Parts of the present fountain belonged to the original version and other parts are copies.
Domenico Fontana, who was also the architect of the Villa Montalto itself, was the creator of the Fontana del Prigione. It is characterized by an alcove with an amply garlanded central alcove. The water comes out of a lion’s head (both the lion and the garlands are symbols on the coat-of-arms of Pope Sixtus V, the villa’s owner) into a basin decorated with 6 pillars. The statue of the prisoner, which gave the fountain its name, has unfortunately gone lost. Of the sculpture group, that contained Apollo and Venus and Aesculapius that used to grace the fountain only the latter is left, although headless.
In 2006 the Fontana del Prigione was completely restored.